Video Note:
They Really Do Play Russian Roulette?
19 June 2018

Having read Final Cut, I thought I would rent The Deer Hunter, the movie that won five Oscars and lured United Artists into producing Michael Cimino’s next feature, Heaven‘s Gate. Nobody ever said that Heaven’s Gate is actually worth watching, but The Deer Hunter was something of a big noise, and I’ve never been able to piece together what it’s about from the things that I’ve read here and there over the years. 

What struck me the most about The Deer Hunter, especially during the first hour, which is mostly taken up with the celebration of a wedding, was how relentlessly the characters are portrayed as sloppy people. Everybody who is not an old lady with her hair in a kerchief is busy making a mess of one kind or another. 

My experience of working-class milieux is very limited, but sloppiness is not part of it. Indeed, such sloppiness as I recall has been almost invariably been my own doing. I would say that less-affluent people are much better at being carefree without spilling anything that more-affluent people are. 

The Deer Hunter is one of the most overtly incoherent movies that I’ve ever seen, which is probably why I had to see it to learn, not what it’s about, but simply what happens. How it won even a single Academy Award is something that I can explain only by saying, “Forget it, Jake; it’s the Seventies.”

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